World Book Day, Belatedly

Shoot! I got distracted and forgot to note that Monday, April 23, was UNESCO’s World Book Day. Though the poster we got about it at work only talks about the need to “Celebrate the importance of books and reading in our lives,” I now note that the official website makes it out to be “World Book and Copyright Day,” with the explanatory supporting tagline of:

By celebrating this Day throughout the world, UNESCO seeks to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.

Which, I suppose, lends weight to their argument that they are supporting both books and authors.

In any case, the celebration apparently began in Catalonia, Spain, “where on 23 April, Saint George’s Day, a rose is traditionally given as a gift for each book sold.” Alas, my bookstore neglected to send out roses in each of its orders for the day, but I’m sure we enjoyed reading something during the day in any case. Did you?

And now, a quotation from Koichiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, 2004:

As a window on the diversity of cultures and a bridge between civilizations, as carriers of values, knowledge, the aesthetic sense and the world of the imagination, books are above all works of the mind, creativity and culture of human beings, which thereby enrich the intangible heritage of humanity…

(It actually goes on with another sentence about why copyright is therefore important, but I find that bit less inspirational, so I cut him off.)

So, does anyone out there have a book they would suggest as a particularly good window into a culture? One that has been making the rounds of my family, most recently featured in my grandmother’s book club, is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, which I read last year. I’m sure I’ll think of more as soon as I post this…

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One Response to World Book Day, Belatedly

  1. TheGnat says:

    Hm, I’m going to assume by “window” that you don’t want a list of interesting ethnographies (some of them aren’t dry as bones! really!).

    Anything by Banana Yoshimoto, like Kitchen is good for modern Japan. And Shohei Ooka’s “The Shade of Blossoms” is great too, for post-war Japan. (I’d link it, but I can’t seem to find a site that doesn’t list the translator as an author, and that makes me mad.)

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